WITH overnight temperatures almost dropping below freezing, the health of rough sleepers in Bromsgrove has prompted questions about will be done to help them.

Labour councillor Peter McDonald has asked Bromsgrove District and Worcestershire Council Council's what it is doing to ensure safety amongst those living rough on the streets.

Councillor Peter McDonald said: “I am concerned regarding the health and wellbeing of those sleeping rough in the district of Bromsgrove and the county as a whole.

"Other local authorities have implemented Severe Weather Emergency Protocols to help rough sleepers. At the moment some 10 people are dying on our streets every week and if local authorities do not take action with the impending cold snap many more will die.

"Local residents should know what to do if they see people sleeping, I.E, who to get hold of to help them receive shelter. At the moment the vast majority of people do not know who to contact and feel helpless."

He added: "Therefore I have asked both Bromsgrove District Council and Worcestershire County Council to publicize how we can help those sleeping rough.

"Rough sleeping is rising across the UK. Not enough is being done to address this.

"There’s a huge number of homeless people with real significant mental health issues like schizophrenia, bipolar and unfortunately there just isn’t the sort of support for those people like there used to be. The growing homelessness crisis is the legacy of austerity but that is no excuse for local authorities not having measures in place to help them.”

This comes after hundreds of tributes were paid to a homeless man who was found dead on Christmas Day in Malvern.

Judith Willis, head of community services, said: “The council works with local charities to ensure that Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) night shelter provision is available. "Historically this was implemented when the weather was forecast to be zero or below for three consecutive nights but the council’s provision goes beyond that and is implemented on any day when temperatures are set to reach zero or below.

“Over this Christmas and New Year period local charities extended that night shelter provision regardless of the temperature, and we are very grateful for their support.

“If people anywhere have a concern about someone who may be sleeping rough there’s a simple, official way to report those concerns to us. It’s called StreetLink, and it ensures every concern is formally recorded and reported. We recommend using the website www.streetlink.org.uk or their phone app, but if you don’t have access to the internet their phone number is 0300 500 0914.”

Cllr Kit Taylor, whose portfolio includes housing, said: “Homelessness and rough sleeping is a matter of real concern and residents should know that that the council together with local charities has this provision in place.

"We should also be aware that we have our rough sleeping outreach service with our partner, Caring for Communities and People (CCP), and the official government figures show no rough sleepers in the district.

"Hopefully through this and StreetLink we can continue to ensure that if anyone does seem to be sleeping in rough in the district, we can intervene quickly and connect them to the support they may need to avoid their situation becoming entrenched.”

Councillor John Smith, cabinet member with responsibility for health and wellbeing at Worcestershire County Council, said: "Worcestershire County Council continues to support the six District Councils on the prevention of homelessness, ensuring those who are homeless across the county receive the help and the support they need.

"There are several initiatives commissioned by our district council colleagues which we continue to promote and support, including countywide homelessness outreach services. The StreetLink service is also available nationally, enabling members of the public to connect people sleeping rough with the local services that can support them."